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Maine’s salmon aquaculture growing

The controversial salmon escape incident at a salmon farm in Washington State in August cast a dark shadow over the salmon industry, but developments in the State of Maine are buoying US industry outlook.


February 2, 2018
By Erich Luening
Salmon ready for harvest at Cooke Aquaculture’s farm in Maine

“With the uncertainties in place we don’t see major growth coming in the US right now,” National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Michael Rust told Aquaculture North America (ANA).

But salmon farming has recently been growing slightly in Maine, Rust said. “It’s not a tremendous growth but it is growing.”

Maine Aquaculture Association executive director Sebastian Belle said farm sites in Northern New England continue to expand into new markets while existing markets in nearby big cities like Boston and New York City, as well as nationally, remain strong.

“We have 25 ocean sites and we are getting new ones over the next couple years,” Belle told ANA.

He acknowledged that growth is limited because Maine waters have been getting warmer over the last decade due to climate change. “Our limitations are biological,” says Belle, who is also a member of the National Aquaculture Association.

In 2016, the Monterey Bay Aquarium upgraded Maine farmed salmon to “good alternative” on its Seafood Watch sustainable seafood grading system.

“Obviously the market is incredibly strong,” Belle said. “We have a Maine farmed brand that has been doing well. We expect to expand slowly and modestly but any expansion helps the states coastal communities with year-long jobs.”